Word-of-mouth marketing is the oldest and most influential type of advertising out there. People trust their peers’ recommendations because they are based on personal experience and save them the exhausting trial-and-error process of exploring the world themselves.
In the past, the word-of-mouth information was passed on in-person and would spread only amongst the circle of closest friends and family of a person. But with the digital revolution and the adoption of the internet in almost every corner of the world, the number of word-of-mouth channels people use to communicate their experiences is growing exponentially.
By establishing a presence on different channels and platforms, brands can build an effective word-of-mouth marketing strategy, join the conversation and lead the way. Leveraging this influence, they can explore the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing:
While discussions can happen practically everywhere on the internet, the word-of-mouth channels that have the largest concentration of your followers are the places you should focus on. By establishing a presence there, you can unfold the three E’s of word-of-mouth marketing – engage, equip, empower – and work to inspire the good word about yourself.
In this article, we’ll discuss the top 4 word-of-mouth marketing channels in digital marketing that you can leverage in your WOMM strategy. Mastering your performance there will enable you to get close to your followers and give people something good to talk about – your brand and the excellent client experience you provide.
Social Media Platforms
Social networks are a place to go for word-of-mouth marketing and they are the channels that can help you build brand awareness, connect with your audience, and get to know them for who they really are (or, who they want to be).
Some of the ways that you can encourage word-of-mouth marketing here are:
Initiate and Join Discussions
By joining the conversation customers have regarding your brand and other related topics, you can make yourself a part of the community and build a relationship with your audience. Although they know that there is not only one person behind a brand’s profile, people will start regarding your brand’s personality like they would a real human being. This will help them accept you, talk to you and build a connection.
Communicating actively with your followers will make you a more tangible part of their life and will encourage them to care about you and talk about you to others. By inspiring their sense of belonging, you can make sure that what they say will have passion and excitement about it.
And there are no better brand advocates than the ones who show emotion and affection. Whatever word-of-mouth information they spread, they will infect others with their enthusiasm and will bring in new customers and more sales.
To keep the conversation going, try to always answer when people tag you, thank them for their review when they leave one, and resolve issues if they have any. This will make them feel cared for and will show them that their opinion matters to you.
All in all, simply having social media profiles and occasionally posting brand-related content is not enough. It paints you as distant and detached and can even make newcomers question if you are legit. Social silence, especially when customers are reaching out to you in some way, can cause doubts and frustration and inspire a negative vibe in the word-of-mouth customers share. Reshare
User-Generated Content (UGC)
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Everything your customers post online and that is somehow related to your brand or area of expertise can be reshared and repurposed to build brand awareness and encourage word-of-mouth marketing.
People trust user-generated content (UGC) way more than they trust brand-created one. In fact, 66% of online users worldwide state that they find it as reliable as recommendations from friends and family. This allows your followers’ social media activity and posts to boost your trustworthiness and online reputation.
Your customers will feel flattered that you have chosen to share their posts and will appreciate any positive and witty comments you can come up with. Also, user-generated content is genuine and shows the real-life face of your products and how they can be incorporated into a customer’s day-to-day. This creates a more natural feeling around your brand and makes it relatable. Accumulating UGC on your profile strengthens the feeling of community, shows how loved and popular you are and nurtures loyalty.
Resharing will encourage others to talk about you and share their experiences. And the more tags you have, the more content and word-of-mouth information to publish you’ll find.
However, when you intend to use UGC for other purposes than simply resharing it, like publishing it on your website or using it in ads, make sure to ask for the owner’s consent.
Work with Influencers
Influencers can quickly spread the word about how awesome your products are and help you reach a new target audience. They are a driving force of modern word-of-mouth marketing and depending on their scope and niche can have millions of faithful followers, waiting to hear what they have to say.
However, the trick here is that people know influencers work for compensation and this can often make them wary of their recommendations, especially if they sense it’s not a sincere one.
Consider carefully researching these kinds of public personas before contacting them and always have clear rules about how your cooperation should unfold. Otherwise, you risk having the opposite effect and generating some negative and questionable word-of-mouth marketing, while wasting time and money.
Organize Contests and Giveaways
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Contests and giveaways are a great way to empower customers to share their experiences with your brand. Challenges boost engagement and provoke people’s creativity by inspiring them to explore your brand and products with an original approach.
The content participants generate will spread the word about you to their friends and followers and turn them into brand advocates and ambassadors. This can help you grow your audience and stand out on social media. Also, entertainment activities can show you as fun and creative. Something that both B2B and B2C circles appreciate.
All in all, social media provides unlimited opportunities to inspire people to talk to and about you, and can be a valuable channel to employ in your word-of-mouth marketing strategy.
Review platforms are the second most valuable source of information your customers will refer to when considering doing business with you. In fact, 79% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from the people they know.
Although there is no way to directly influence what people say about you in their reviews, be they on third-party platforms or on your website, addressing the feedback is how you take the reins of the situation.
When someone has put in the time and effort to leave a review about you, the least you can do is thank them and appreciate the favor.
That counts even more when the review is negative. When people are sharing about a bad experience with your company, your instinct may be to try and sweep it under the carpet, or think of a way to make them take it back. But what you can and should do is apologize and work to fix their problem or compensate them for the inconvenience.
By trying to make amends you can regain their trust and move back in their good graces. This gives you the power to turn bad word-of-mouth marketing into a redemption story. And redemption stories create better word-of-mouth marketing than anything else. They can boost your reputation and make people talk.
It’s only human to make mistakes and owning up to them shows you as a mature and responsible brand that people can count on.
Technically, affiliate marketing is not exactly a communication channel. But since affiliates employ different marketing platforms to spread the word about the products they recommend to their audience, starting your own program is worth considering.
Affiliates can help you build awareness for your brand amongst a targeted audience of interested potential customers. In a way, they are brand advocates you hire to find more brand advocates.
However, similarly to social media influencers, affiliate programs are a type of word-of-mouth marketing that should be used carefully in your strategy. For the regular consumer, the core value of WoMM recommendations resides in the fact that they are genuine and unbiased. Since affiliates and influencers receive an incentive for their referrals, this can corrupt the process to an extent and make people question the honesty of the recommendation.
You should consider working only with reliable and trustworthy partners who will be objective about your product and will, hopefully, show a true passion for using it and sharing it with their audience.
Digital communities are often associated with social media networks, and they do indeed thrive there, but they are not limited to platforms.
Forums, fan websites, and support groups for various products can play a major role in digital WoMM, and are the most complicated word-of-mouth channel to manage. People gather there to talk about issues they encounter, share success stories or talk about all kinds of related topics.
For example, a gaming community can be a place where people discuss walkthroughs, new video game releases, gaming requirements, peripheral accessories, and etc.
Finding the niche communities related to your business and area of expertise allows you to join the discussion and share useful information is where things often become tricky.
While your purpose will be to promote your product, it should be done very, very subtly. If members of the community start to feel that you’ve infiltrated them only for personal gain, you may do the exact opposite of what you intended to and build up a shock-wave of negative WoM that can drive away a substantial part of your audience.
Joining communities should be for observational market research and not for direct interference. You should join conversations because you care about the topic, and want to share your unbiased opinion and input. If your product happens to be the best solution for someone’s troubles, you can, by all means, suggest it as an option. But to make your opinion valued by the community as a relevant and reliable source of information, you have to first build a reputation as someone who represents themselves rather than their company.
The internet and all the communication channels it presents the consumer with, have empowered them to voice their opinions and in the process, be heard. This allows people to feel they can share their experiences with brands, not only with their close circle of friends and family but with the whole online community.
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